Strapping Young Lad’s Devin Townsend is best known as the mad scientist of metal and is also a very productive musician of several other styles of music. With Strapping young Lad’s 5th (and supposedly final) release, The New Black
, Devin Townsend brings some of his other musical influences into the industrial/ melodic death metal act, including jazzy funk rock and dance/ techno music. The album also features two unlikely guest stars, comedy death rock band GWAR’s frontman Oderus Urungus and punk influenced Indie singer/ songwriter Bif Naked. Even with it’s great musical influences separating it from the band’s earlier work, The New Black
still contains all the insanity and heaviness as the previous Strapping Young Lad records. The one thing I noticed with the album though are it’s lyrics, which instead of being based on random lunacy focus almost entirely Devin Townsend's hate for today’s music media and the negativity metal gets in the mainstream (which may explain why he deliberately put so much different influences into the songs, to prove a point).
The New Black
kicks off with the crushing, grooving riffs of Decimator
. The song immediately kicks off into some wicked guitar work before Devin Townsend comes in with his sinister style of chanting/ singing. Near the end of the song’s repetitive insanity, the band members take the liberty to scream their band’s initials “S.Y.L.” until the song comes to a halt, making the listener either prepared for more chaos, or already sick of it. You Suck
is another standard, apocalyptic riffage hit-and-run with some powerful vocal performances expressing Devin Townsend’s hate for the media. The song is pretty straightforward with a chorus basically saying how much everything and everyone (including themselves) f**king suck. The song has a very strong and dynamic presence on the album, and ranks among one of the better songs on the album.
is the first song to show some musical difference on the album. After some grooving heavy riffs, the song goes into an upbeat bass groove as Devin Townsend does his raspy operatic singing. The song has a lot more funk influenced grooves in it then usually Strapping Young Lad songs. Although the idea works for the most part, the song fails to make much a standout as a dynamic track. Monument
begins with some heavy riffs and atmospheric background ambiance. The big change with this song is when Devin Townsend actually says the words “We love you”, which makes the funk grooves and random horns played on the song not the only drastic change to the band’s style. Although Devin Townsend still keeps his well known pissed off voice for most of the song, the chorus definitely brings the bands sounds even further into insanity no one could expect Strapping Young Lad to reach.
The next track, Wrong Side
, starts off with some standard thrashy guitar riffs and scathing harsh vocals. The song is more standard, older Strapping Young Lad, with furious guitar solos and catchy harsh mixed with clean vocals. The only real change in the song is the keyboard backdrops unusually happy tone and Devin Townsend’s dramatic chant singing a bit past the halfway marker of the song. Hope
starts off with what sounds like the band playing before a cheering audience before it goes into some grooving riffs and harsh chanting vocals. The riffs take on some strange new grooves on this track, and some of the background ambiance twists the songs atmosphere, making any listener feel just a tad uncomfortable. The song then goes into a standard thrash number before repeating it’s chorus and ending abruptly.
Far Beyond Metal
, the song featuring Oderus Urungus, is also one of the most insane song paying tribute to metal. The song contains all the right swinging guitar riffs, war cries, and keyboard synths to put electronica and GWAR inspired rock into the aura of insanity. The song basically swings back and forth with brutal screaming and blistering vocals screaming “Don’t you f**ck with metal!” Devin Townsend then goes into an operatic singing voice as he soars over the chaotic music. After a jazzy guitar solo (that sounds a little like one of Children Of Bodom’s solo), Devin Townsend introduces the crowd to Oderus Urungus (introduced as ‘The Maggot Master’) giving the GWAR singer a minute at the mike alone. The song finally ends, leaving me personally in awe at the ingenious originality of the song. F**cker
is another song a lot like the more typical Strapping young Lad pissed off anger. The big difference is the techno influenced atmosphere and the intro featuring punk style female vocalist Bif Naked. The song then goes into some chaotic riffs followed by some grooving vocals and bass work and a chorus that repeats the album title over and over again. Ironically, the songs dynamics and unique atmosphere along with its Nintendo-esque guitar solo makes the song one of the best songs on the album.
At the beginning of Almost Again
, the song has Devin Townsend singing a very mellow tune over some slow bass work with insane drum work. By the chorus, the song loses all subtleties and breaks into heavy riffs and blast beats and harsh vocals. The song is a lot more typical Strapping young Lad aside from the suddle intro. The song ends without changing as much as any of the other songs on the album. Aside from being more or less an intro track to the last song on the album, Polyphony
could also be considered the ballad of the album. Barely clocking 2 minutes, the song is mostly bass driven and has an ascending atmospheric presence as Devin Townsend delivers some amazing vocal work. The song bleeds straight into The New Black
, which starts off with some heavy drum rolls that lead into some quick slashes at the guitar before bursting into some chugging riffs that lead to a ballistic atmosphere of insanity. By far the heaviest song on the album, the track contains some great death metal growls and shrieks. The keyboard backdrop gives the song some powerful atmosphere as Devin Townsend sings the chorus in his normal clean voice. The track is pretty much straightforward after that, and ends in some atmospheric ambiance and static.
-- Great vocals, guitar, and drum work.
-- The keyboard makes for some great atmosphere throughout the CD.
-- The album’s overall statement of “F**k you to the media, give metal a chance” is very respectable.
-- The featured vocalists (especially Bif Naked) add a lot of fire to the songs they’re featured in.
-- A lot of people will miss the old Strapping Young Lad.
-- A lot of parts get rather repetitive.
-- It’s the band’s last album (for a long while at least).
1. Decimator (3.5/5)
2. You Suck (4.5/5)
3. Anti Product (3.5/5)
4. Monument (3.5/5)
5. Wrong Side (3.5/5)
6. Hope (3.5/5)
7. Far Beyond Metal (5/5)
8. F**ker (5/5)
9. Almost Again (4/5)
10. Polyphony (4.5/5)
11. The New Black (4/5)